TATUM, Texas (KETK) – Tatum ISD has decided to make changes to their safety and security measures including the establishment of a district police department, threat assessment team and additional training for all campus staff.

“Our hearts are heavy from the Uvalde tragedy this past school year,” Tatum ISD Superintendent J.P. Richardson said. “Please know that as a father of two sons, I too, feel grief and fear from tragedies such as this. As your superintendent, I assure you that we will continually evaluate our school safety and security measures to keep our campuses safe.”

Richardson said in order to maintain the integrity of the procedures and to limit campus vulnerabilities, some changes will be visible while others are not.

“Though protocols are in place, there is no guarantee there would not be a situation on one of our campuses,” Richardson said. “What I can guarantee with 100% certainty is that as a school district with the support of our board of trustees, we will do everything humanly possible to make sure our students and staff are safe.”

The new district required safety measures include conducting a summer targeted partial safety audit and exterior door audit. The district’s safety and security committee is to review the multi-hazard emergency operations plan and active threat plan.

Members of the committee are:

  • Rusk County Emergency Management Coordinator
  • Rusk County Sheriff
  • Tatum Police Chief
  • Tatum ISD Police Chief
  • Tatum ISD Board President
  • Tatum ISD Board Member
  • Tatum ISD Superintendent
  • Tatum ISD Assistant Superintendent
  • Tatum ISD Teacher
  • Two Parents of Tatum ISD students

All campus staff, including substitutes, will be trained on campus safety procedures, and all mandatory drills for the school year are being established.

A threat assessment team will have members trained to provide what the district said will be “a proactive, evidence-based approach for identifying individuals who may pose a threat of violence, exhibit harmful, threatening or violent behavior. The team gathers and analyzes data to determine the level of risk and appropriate interventions before a violent incident occurs.”

The district said the team consists of a multi-disciplinary team with relevant expertise in counseling, behavior management, mental health and substance use, classroom instruction, special education, school administration, school safety and security, emergency management, and law enforcement.

Safety measures will be reviewed again before the school year, and access control procedures will be updated if necessary. District board members will also be required to take a school safety training course.

“Let’s be reminded that schools were never meant to keep people in or out. Schools are places of community discourse and learning. This district will be intentional in its safety, training, procedures, etc., but remain welcoming to our students and community.”

Tatum ISD Superintendent J.P. Richardson

According to the district, additional safety measures include but are not limited to the following:

  • All exterior doors must be locked
  • All classroom doors must be locked
  • Visitors enter facility through primary entrance
  • Additional Guardians added to campuses
  • Active shooter drills with area law enforcement
  • Window tint on high student traffic areas 
  • New keycard access on all doors and gates 
  • Additional security cameras
  • Audible and visual exterior door prop alarms 
  • Fencing at all of our schools 
  • Visitor and volunteer management system (Raptor) to establish additional safety protocols on our school campuses and district office facilities.
  • Safety drills are conducted regularly at all schools for various types of emergencies including fire, lock-down drills for intruders, and active threats where procedures are practiced.
  • P3 School Tip Hotline to report concerns of violence
  • Stop the Bleed Training for campus staff

“We want our students to feel safe and secure on campus so they can focus on their studies, social interactions and relationships,” Richardson said. “The culture of our schools should be safety and a feeling of belonging without fear or disconnection. We will work together to provide a safe and secure environment.”

Stay up-to-date with the latest local news, sports, weather, politics and more using the KETK mobile app.